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5 Cathedrals to visit along the Way of Saint James
In the heart of Tuscany, between art and nature

For centuries, Tuscany has been a land of passage: pilgrims and travelers walked the routes to and from Rome, throughout the region. Routes and paths that, even today, are crossed by modern pilgrims like hikers, or those seeking relaxation and tranquility through contact with nature.

In Tuscany, along the historic via Cassia, an itinerary winds through extraordinary areas that are rich in history and connect some of the most beautiful Italian cities of art: the Way of Saint James (Cammino di San Jacopo).

The itinerary crosses the towns of Florence, Prato, Pistoia, Pescia and Lucca, and can be considered a part of the long journey through the heart of Europe towards Santiago de Compostela, a town with which Pistoia famously shares the cult of San Jacopo, passing along the Via della Costa and the Cammino Francese. 

In November 2019, the Xunta de Galicia, in collaboration with Concello de Santiago and Xacobeo 2021, donated the only Italian stone of the Camino de Santiago to the city of Pistoia which, located between the Piazza del Duomo and the Via degli Orafi, indicates the distance from Santiago de Compostela.

Remembering the Way of Santiago de Compostela, the symbol of the Way of Saint James is a stylised scallop shell with nine ribs, set into a diamond shape which is a typical and recurring feature in the Pisan Romanesque architectural style.

Here are 5 cathedrals to visit along the way.

Firenze, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Firenze, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Firenze, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore- Credit:  Free credit image

With its dome designed by Brunelleschi, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the symbol of the city of Florence.

The route starts from Piazza del Duomo and, once out of town, leads to Prato.

Prato, Cathedral of Santo Stefano
Prato, Cathedral of Santo Stefano
Prato, Cathedral of Santo Stefano- Credit:  Visit Pistoia

The route then reaches the city of Prato. Once in the historic centre, you must visit the Cathedral of Santo Stefano, housing the relic of the Virgin's Holy Girdle.

Pistoia, Cathedral of San Zeno
Pistoia, Cathedral of San Zeno
Pistoia, Cathedral of San Zeno- Credit:  Visit Pistoia

In the Cathedral of San Zeno lies the relic of Saint James (San Jacopo or Giacomo), brought to Pistoia from Santiago de Compestela in 1145. 

The reliquary stands in front of the Silver Altar. The cult of Saint James made Pistoia famous throughout Europe, so much so that it earned the title of Minor Santiago, little Santiago. 

Pescia, Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Pescia, Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Pescia, Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta- Credit:  Visit Pistoia

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta stands in the medieval town of Pescia. The first mention of its existence is in a document from the year 857 but a few centuries later the church was completely rebuilt following a fire that destroyed the city in 1281.

Lucca, Cathedral of San Martino
Lucca, Cattedrale di San Martino
Lucca, Cattedrale di San Martino- Credit:  Visit Pistoia

The route ends in the centre of Lucca in the Cathedral of San Martino. It houses the Holy Visage and the famous funerary monument dedicated to Ilaria del Carretto, built by Jacopo della Quercia between 1406 and 1408.

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